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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - Samuel Funkhouser

SOURCE: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Champaign County, Illinois," Chapman Brothers, Chicago, 1887


SAMUEL FUNKHOUSER, a highly respected resident of Somer Township, is a native of St. Joseph Township, Dearborn Co., Ind., and was born Feb. 20, 1830. His father, Abraham, was a native of New Brighton, Beaver Co., Pa., and his grandfather, Jacob, a native of Maryland, was the son of Abraham FUNKHOUSER, Sr., who was born in Germany, whence he emigrated to this country when a young man and served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He afterward settled in Maryland, where he reared his family and spent the last years of his life. His son, Jacob, when a young man left his native State and located in Beaver County, Pa., where he was married, and engaged in farming pursuits with the exception of the time spent as a soldier in the War of 1812. Six years afterward he removed to Indiana and was among the earliest settlers of Dearborn County. He purchased a tract of Government land, which he occupied, however, but a few years, whenhe removed to Ribley County, that State, where he spent the reaminder of his days.

The father of our subject was reared on a farm in his native county of Beaver, Pa., and was there married to Miss Margaret FOSTER. This lady was a native of the same town as her husband and was the daughter of James FOSTER, also a native of the Keystone State, and who emigrated to Dearborn County, Ind., where his death occurred in about 1876.

Abraham FUNKHOUSER removed with his parents to Indiana and for a short time rented a tract of land in Dearborn County. He had been trained to habits of industry and economy, and hoarded his small income until he was enabled to purchase forty acres of Government land and also entered another forty acres. He put up a log cabin into which he removed with his family, and commenced in good earnest the improvement and cultivation of his purchase, which was very heavily timbered. The original dwelling was constructed after the manner of the pioneer days before the erection of sawmills in the county. After a few years he built a more pretentious residence of hewed logs, which in those times was considered a great possession. In due time this also was replaced by a frame house whose rafters were hewed by hand, and which was considered substantial, but was broken in two by a hurricane, leaving the lower story standing. Mr. F. was, however, successful in his labor of clearing his farm, and destroyed the most beautiful saw logs by fire in order to get rid of them. Those logs now would sell at a good round price. He occupied his farm in Dearborn county, Ind., until 1851, then sold out and started overland with teams for Iowa. He took up a tract of Government land in Monroe County and also purchased sixty acres adjoining, which gave him a tract of land consisting of 240 acres. This he improved into a valuable farm which he occupied until 186. In that year he sold out and recrossed the Father of Waters, purchasing a farm in Greene County, Ill., five miles from White hall, which remained his home until his death, in 1876. The wife and mother had departed this life two years before. Of the fourteen children born of the parental union, all grew to man and womanhood, married, and reared families of their own.

The subject of our sketch was the sixth child and fourth son, and remained on the farm homestead until sixteen years old. He then started out in life for himself, and became a flatboatman on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. These boats carried produce, lumber and other merchandise, and young Samuel visited all the principal towns on the two rivers from Cincinnati to New Orleans, being on the river in winter and following farming in summer until 1849. He then returned to Dearborn county, Ind., and too charge of a sawmill in Aurora one winter, after which he located at Ft. Madison, iowa, and engaged in brick-making. He lived there and in West Point for two years following, after which he went into Missouri and spent eight months in memphis, Scotland county. After this he returned to Aurora, Ind., and after four years became foreman of a large distillery. Six years later he removed to Momence, Ill., where he operated a distillery two years.

In October, 1862, Mr. F. purchased 120 acres of land in Monroe County, Iowa, which he occupied one winter, then returned to Lawrenceburg and engaged once more in a distillery. In 1863, he became a soldier in the Union army, and for six months was on guard duty in the Southern part of the State. The regiment, commanded by Capt. Burckam, was known as the Indiana Legion, and they engaged three times with Morgan's men at the time of the famous raid in Southern Ohio. After leaving the army Mr. F. located in Carrollton, Ky., and engaged in distilling, removing thence, in January, 1864, to Lafayette, Ind., where he followed the same business two years. In 1868 he came to this county and purchased the farm which he now owns and occupies. It was, however, by no means a farm at that time, but uncultivated land which it took years to bring to a good bearing condition. His first business was to erect a dwelling for his family, into which they removed the following year. One of the features of this now productive and valuable farm is a pond covering three acres, and stocked with German carp.

The family of Mr. Funkhouser occupied the farm while he returned to Harrison, Ohio, and was engaged in distilling, seven years there and four years in Cincinnati. In 1880 he took up the same business at Indianapolis for six months. His family occupied the farm until 1874, then all removed to Harrison, Hamilton Co., Ohio. After three years spent in the Buckeye State they returned to the farm, and since 1881 Mr. F. himself took up his abode here and superintended its further improvement. All his land is now under a good state of cultivation and he has erected a fine set of frame buildings. His enterprise and energy have become proverbial, and both as a citizen and business man, he is regarded as a valued member o the community.

The marriage of our subject with Miss Susan LUTZ took place at Napoleon, Ribpley Co., Ind., Aug. 5, 1849. Mrs. F. was born in Ripley county, Feb. 4, 1831, and was the daughter of Moses and Mary (HOUSE) LUTZ. The mother died when Mrs. F. was but two days old, and her father one and one-half years later. She was reared by strangers until nine years of age, and then lived with an elder sister. Of her marriage with our subject there were born ten children, seven now living: Francis is a resident of Hamilton County, Ill.; Sarah A., Mrs. Albert KIRBY, lives in Somer Township; Ella, the wife of J. W. PRICKETT, lives in Hamilton County, Ill.; Hattie, Mrs. C. F. CALLOWAY, is a resident of Stanton Township; Josephine, who married David WHITE, lives in Somer Township; Emma, Mrs. Stephen FINNESSY, in Clinton Township, and William C. is at home. Mr. F. politically is a stanch supporter of the Republican party.

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